Health experts are warning the country to brace for an exceptionally bad flu season this fall and winter as more people who haven’t developed immunity in the past few years join in and join. There are two big reasons why more people are getting the flu this time of year.

People are more likely to come into contact with the flu virus this year than in the past two years, unless the first coronavirus restrictions, such as wearing a mask, are completely forgotten.

A second reason is that fewer people are likely to be immune to the flu virus this year because fewer people have gotten the flu in the past two years — when the pandemic has locked people down and people are more worried about getting Covid-19.

Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases, said the past two flu seasons simply haven’t seen the same levels of exposure to the flu.

“As a population, our immunity to the flu is a little bit lower,” Webby said. “When the virus comes back, it probably has a little more space, a little more space that can cause disease.

Since 10 to 30 percent of people are susceptible to the flu in a normal year, exposure to the influenza virus creates some community defenses.

But in 2020 and 2021, fewer people were exposed, resulting in reduced natural immunity.

For example, before the epidemic, flu deaths in children were typically more than 100 each year.

But the past two flu seasons have seen child flu deaths drop below 40, with only one child death confirmed in 2020.

This lowered immune system means people are more likely to catch the flu this year, Webby said.

Amesh Adalja, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that for the past two years, the flu season has been essentially “nothing” and that trend almost always ends once social distancing begins. Less practice.

According to Adalja, evidence of a flu recovery is a sign that people are returning to their “pre-Covid semblance of life”.

The Southern Hemisphere is giving the United States a preview of what’s to come.

It was winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and those countries experienced a severe flu season. As one example, Australia experienced its worst flu season in five years, with disease rates rising earlier than normal across the country.

In both In 2020 and 2021, the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care reported that the incidence and severity of reported flu was low, with only 37 laboratory-confirmed flu cases reported in 2020 and zero reported in 2021. Flu hospitalizations and deaths have skyrocketed. An all-time low in Australia last year.

In the year In 2021, there were approximately 600 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Australia. This year the country has reported more than 217,000 cases of the flu, although this is still less than in 2019, when Australia reported more than 300,000 cases, the highest number of cases recorded for the country.

Webby said flu deaths and hospitalizations in Australia were still relatively low despite the worst flu season the country had ever seen. Deaths and hospitalizations are mostly due to infections among the elderly, and Australia still takes precautions when it comes to this demographic.

If such precautions were taken in the U.S., high rates of flu hospitalizations and deaths could be similarly avoided, Webby said.

Experts who spoke to The Hill said what has been seen in the Southern Hemisphere appears to be a return to a normal flu season that has not been “suppressed” by the Covid-19 outbreak. Both Webby and Adalja were skeptical that there would be a “shock” of both the flu and the coronavirus this year.

“I don’t think these two viruses can go gangbusters at the same time,” Webby said.

With the recent approval of a dual covid-19 booster dose, the White House has begun recommending that people receive both booster shots and flu shots at the same time, hoping to avoid exposure to both viruses.

For the 2022-2023 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says September and October are good times to get vaccinated.

Because more people with Covid-19 awareness may get their booster shots sooner, some have questioned whether September, when the Covid-19 boosters are available, is too soon to protect against the flu. Two shots at different times.

Adalja says it’s best to time your flu shot so it’s effective throughout the flu season.

“There’s clear evidence that if you get there too early, it slows down at the end of the season,” he said. “Normally, it peaks around February. So if you’re getting a flu shot now in early September, you can’t expect it to be as effective at the end of flu season. So I always recommend that people get their flu shot at the end of October.

Adalja went on to say that he doesn’t believe the White House’s recommendation to get flu shots at the same time as Covid-19 shots is based on evidence.

What they’re trying to do is increase the uptake of both and bring the same kind of smile to people to get, you know, two-for-one, if it affects the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. It is given very early,” said Adalja.

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